Thursday, April 21, 2011

Change--Loving AND Hating It

Last October, Ashley of Nourishing the Soul kicked off an empowering blog series – Self Discovery Word by Word. The series was created to encourage the blogging community to focus on one word a month in an effort to engage in self-discovery and self-reflection. This month, Mara of Medical Marzipan is hosting the Word by Word series, and she has chosen the word "CHANGE" as the focus of April's posts. I have not participated in Word by Word before, but I already had a post kicking around in my head on change. So, I took the notification that change was the world of the month as a sign that this week was the time to make it happen. Enjoy!


I feel like I have been inundated with change recently. On the one hand, I'm thrilled with the natural changes as spring kicks off here in the mid-west (think daffodils, tulips, lilacs, flowering trees--the works). And on the other hand, I'm noticing some strong resistance to interpersonal change (one of my office mates is moving on, which sets off a domino effect of new things). I'm fascinated by how different my reactions are. The transition from winter to spring creates a visceral reaction for me--I can almost feel the excitement fizzing through my veins as I breathe in the smell of growing things. But the idea of change in the office has a visceral effect as well--I can definitely feel my stomach tightening as I think about interviewing new office mates, re-negotiating leases, etc.

I'm pretty sure that I am not alone in my ambivalent reaction to change. In fact, in the past week, while I have heard people rejoicing about warmer weather and the wash of spring color, I have also heard at least three people say directly, "I hate change."

As I think about my own response to the office changes, as well as the statements about "hating change," I recognize that many of us experience discomfort when we're faced with change. I know that I do. I also know that change is part of growth, and even if it is frightening or challenging, I know that I would rather grow than remain stagnant.

I believe that, for most of us, the initial resistance that we have to change is a reflection of our own fear about the unknown. We don't have any certain way of knowing what the result of a change will be, so we convince ourselves that we would rather stay as we are (even if that is in a state of pain) than risk the unknown realities of change.

One of the things that I appreciate so much about the process of therapy is that, instead of resisting change, I get to invite change, and embrace it. In fact, whether my clients would describe it this way or not, therapy is an effort to seek out change in a healthy way--to have the same joyful reaction to change in our personal lives as we do to that first crocus poking its colorful head out after a cold winter.

So, what changes have you been avoiding that might open you up to new growth? If you like, please share your favorite "change survival strategy" in the comments.